Review By: Jared Black
|# Of Players:||1|
|Accessories:||HDTV 720p/1080i/1080p, In-game Dolby Digital, Xbox Live (leaderboards)|
As far as manly men go, Conan the Barbarian has to rank right up there with the manliest of them. Although Conan has been around since 1932, when writer Robert E. Howard created him for a series of fantasies featured in Weird Tales magazine, originally he was a rather intelligent barbarian who used brains and brawn to get out of sticky situations. Today, most people probably associate the Cimmerian with Ah-nold the Govenator’s 1982 big-screen portrayal of him as a big dunderhead. Regardless, the franchise is perfect for video gaming, which has resulted in several different titles over the years including the promising upcoming MMO Age of Conan. THQ’s Conan is the latest single-player effort to try to capture the essence of the man and despite the fact that there’s very little thinking involved here it’s not a bad effort.
In the beginning, Conan accidentally unleashes a great evil upon the land, in the form of the once-bound wizard Graven. In the process, Conan loses his armor to the wizard, and after washing up on a distant shore with no memory of those events sets out to retrieve his armor and ultimately save the land. Early on, he meets up with the barbarian princess A’Kanna, a gorgeous and deadly woman, and she provides further motivation for him to retrieve his armor and save the world. She also provides counterbalance to the numerous topless bimbos (I looked the other way dear, honestly!) chained up throughout the adventure, all of which coo over our hero with one of several cheesy sayings after being released. “Take me and crush me with your love!” doesn’t even make sense! All told, the storyline is rather good for a game of this nature, and helps to keep the game’s 7-8 hours moving briskly.
Conan is an incredibly brutal game, earning every bit of its “M” rating, with combat at the heart of it all. As Conan cuts through swathes of enemies, heads and limbs go flying while blood spurts from every newfound orifice. Early on, Conan will have only three basic attacks to use against his foes, a light but fast attack, a heavy but slow attack, and a punch to break through defenses, but as he defeats enemies he earns experience points the player can use to purchase more advanced combos of these three primary attacks. These combos can get rather complex with up to five button presses, and when combined with the different weapon types make for a fairly deep fighting system.
In addition to wielding just a single sword, Conan can also dual-wield several different swords and axes, carry a shield, or use just one heavy bardiche or large sword. The different weapon combinations play an important role in the game, as different enemies are generally weaker against certain weapon types. However, the roster of weaponry isn’t as diverse as it may appear, since weapons of similar sizes (ex: Conan’s default sword and a battle axe) really attack with the same speed and damage, they just look different. The weight of each weapon factors in too however, as even light attacks can be too slow against certain enemies if Conan is wielding a heavier weapon. Blocking and rolling out of the way (with the right analog stick) is also very important throughout the game, although there are a few attacks that are unblockable and must be dodged.
Posted: 2008-03-02 14:06:09 PST